Old photo shows vandalism in Dublin, not 'anti-Pakistani graffiti in Kyrgyzstan'

A photo of racist graffiti linked to the ransacking of a halal food store in Ireland in 2013 has resurfaced in online posts falsely claiming it shows an anti-Pakistani message in the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek in May 2024. The image -- shared thousands of times -- recirculated after brawls between local and international students, including Pakistanis, broke out in Bishkek. 

"No one likes Pakistanis, this is written all over hostels and apartments in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan," read a post on social media platform X on May 18, 2024.

The post shared a photo of a graffiti scrawled on a white wall which said "Pakis Out". 

It emerged on X after four Pakistani students were injured overnight on May 17, 2024, when brawls erupted involving hundreds of students from different countries including India and Bangladesh.

More than 650 Pakistani students were repatriated from Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan’s foreign minister said on May 19, 2024, after clashes broke out between locals and foreigners near student accommodation in Bishkek.

The "disturbances" followed an incident earlier in the week when foreign students reported being harassed in their dormitories by "unidentified persons", the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kyrgyzstan said in a statement published online. 

Local media said more than 11,000 Pakistanis are studying across Kyrgyzstan, which is particularly popular with medical students.

A screenshot taken of the false post on X, taken on May 22, 2024

The same photo was published here, here and here on X alongside a similar false claim.

Some users pointed out that the photo was not from Bishkek, however, others appeared to believe the claim. 

 "They should leave their undisciplined, third rate behavior back in Pakistan......" wrote one X user.

"They must have thought they can push their Punjabi attitude on kyrgyz ppl as well," wrote another. 

The photo, however, has circulated online since 2013 and is unrelated to the incident in Bishkek.

Dublin store ransacking

Comments on the post mentioned a blog published on November 13, 2013 about a racist attack on a halal food store in the Irish capital Dublin, which embedded the same picture of the graffiti (archived link). 

The blog cited a news report by Irish media organisation TheJournal.ie about a robbery in early November 2013 at a Halal food store in Cookstown Industrial Estate in southern Dublin (archived link).

The news report said the Al-Minnah Foods shop was managed by a young man "originally from Algeria".

It published photos of the graffiti which said "Pakis Out" and "Niggrs Out" and credited them to a Dublin-based Facebook account.

AFP searched the account and found a post published on November 8, 2013 containing the same photos of the graffiti alongside additional images of the store vandalism (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the picture in the false post (left) and the photo from the 2013 Facebook post (right): 

A screenshot comparison of the photo in the false post (left) and the picture from the Muslim Eire Facebook post (right)

"Vandals (& perhaps racists) vandalised Al-Minnah store halal store in Cookstown Ind. Estate in Tallaght last Saturday," the post read in part. 

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